Canada helps South Korean LGBT activists establish Asia's first Pride House at 2018 Winter Olympics

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      When South Korean activists were unable to create a physical LGBT pavilion at this year's Winter Olympics, Canada stepped in to give a helping hand.

      Prior to the start of this year's Winter Olympics, which began today in Pyeongchang, organizers weren't able to gain government support or secure sufficient funding for a LGBT–dedicated space at the Olympic Village.

      As an alternative, organizers had then shifted focus by planning to make a virtual Pride House through a social-media campaign.

      However, the Canadian Olympic Committee (COC) announced on February 6 that the COC and Pride House International formed a partnership and that Canada House will become the host for this year's Pride House.

      The committee stated in a news release that this is the first time that Pride House will be directly affiliated with and hosted by a national Olympic committee. It also marks the first Pride House in Asia.

      A ceremonial opening was held on February 7 and an official opening for fans will held on February 10.

      Canada House at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea
      Pride House International

      Pride House was created to establish a safe space for LGBT people at the Olympics, including athletes, attendees, and allies, and to provide education and information about and support for LGBT people and issues, including human rights and homophobia in sport.

      The first Pride House launched at the 2010 Winter Olympics held in Vancouver and Whistler. One pavilion was hosted at the Pan Pacific Village Centre in Whistler while a second one was hosted by B.C. queer resource centre Qmunity in Vancouver's West End.

      Pride House Whistler at the 2010 Winter Olympics

      After Vancouver, Pride Houses have been held at the Olympics in London (2012) and Rio (2016).

      The 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics drew attention to Russia's antigay legislation and Russian authorities rejected requests for a Pride House. In response, openly gay Vancouver city councillor Tim Stevenson led a local delegation who met with the International Olympic Committee in Sochi to address discrimination in sports and the Olympics.

      Pride Houses have been held at numerous sporting events around the world, including at the 2012 European Football Championships in Poland and Ukraine; the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland; the 2015 Pan/Parapan Am Games in Toronto, and the 2015 Women's World Cup held in Vancouver.

      Regarding LGBT people in South Korea, the country has not yet legalized same-sex marriage or partnerships and legal protection against discrimination are still lacking. However, South Korea has never had any legislation against same-sex sexual activity and transgender people are able to have gender-transition-related surgery after the age of 20 and are able to change their gender on official documents.

      Odaesan Woljeongsa temple in Pyeongchang, South Korea